As Thanksgiving nears, I become nostalgic for the rituals of my youth. And wish I could be seven-year-old me–if only for the day. To once again…
Open that rickety screen door.
Knock on the storm door.
See Nanny’s sweet face peer through the window, flash us her gap-toothed grin, and unbolt the door to let us in. (The scent of L’air du Temps mingled with the aroma of the roasting bird arrived through the threshold before we did.)
Dispense with “hellos”.
Bounce down to the basement, where the dampness rattled my bones.
Lift the lid off the record player precariously perched on a wobbly ironing board.
Stand on the tips of my toes to plug the cord into an overhead outlet.
Slide the record from its paper sleeve.
Snap the yellow 45 spider into place.
Place the vinyl disk on the platter.
Swing the arm into place.
Gently glide the needle into the groove.
Stare wide-eyed as the player cracked and popped to life. And spewed the most beautiful, reedy voices I’d ever heard. Nanny’s basement was my portal into folk music. Into the stories of the common people told in a language I so desperately wanted to understand. (“Silence like a cancer grows.” “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.” Do you know what sort of images those lyrics conjure in a seven-year-old’s mind?)
In a chain of subsequent events, the record was stepped on. Or sat on. I can’t recall. And quite honestly, it’s too painful to. All I know for certain is in that moment of a thousand vinyl splinters; seven-year-old me fully felt the weight of the sound of silence.
So much to be thankful for indeed.
Your turn: What’s the first song that had the most memorable impact on you?
Until next time, be kind to yourself. And each other.